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Personal construct psychology has long had links with the research side of marketing in the field of market research or consumer behaviour. The repertory grid is an ideal tool for the investigation known in that domain as "product-attribute" mapping, since the elements of the grid can be products and the constructs attributes. Stewart and Stewart (1981, pp.73-82) provide some examples of this. Another aspect, which has received research interest (ie research into market research) is that of cognitive complexity. Durand and Lambert (1985) refer to "approximately" 40 such studies since the early 1970’s (for example Durand, 1979). Another much more influential link has been that of laddering. Laddering in a consumer research context proceeds by eliciting constructs about products, then laddering on these constructs to higher order personal constructs, providing information to advertisers that links desired personal attributes with product attributes. In an article in the Journal of Advertising Research, Reynolds and Gutman (1988) presented what must be the most detailed account of the laddering interview. They also extended the use of the technique to quantitative analysis of grouped data through what they referred to as "the implication matrix". The technique is still widely used (Reynolds, Detloff,and Westberg, 2001). Kelly is often (but not always) cited. Hinkle never is.

  • Durand, R.M. (1979) Cognitive complexity, attitudinal affect, and dispersion in affect ratings for products. Journal of Social Psychology, 107, 209-212.
  • Durand, R.M., and Lambert, Z.V. (1985) Cognitive structure: A buyer behaviour perspective. Paper presented at  the Sixth International Congress on Personal Construct Psychology,  August, 1985, Churchill College, Cambridge.
  • Reynolds, T.J., and Gutman, J. (1988)  Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of Advertising Research, 28, 11-31.
  • Reynolds, T.J., Dethloff, C., and Westberg, S.J. (2001) Advances in laddering. In T.J. Reynolds and J. C. Olson (Eds.) Understanding consumer decision making: The means-end approach to marketing and advertising strategy. (pp. 91-118) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Stewart, V., and Stewart, A. (1981) Business applications of the repertory grid. London: McGraw-Hill

Richard C. Bell

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004